Mr Cain Murphy

: Social worker

: SW89710

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 25/07/2017 End: 17:00 26/07/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Health Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

1. Your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your health.

Finding

Preliminary matters:
Service

1. The Panel was satisfied that service of the Notice of Hearing dated 23 March 2017 was effected according to the HCPC’s procedural rules, as it was sent by first class post no later than 28 days before this hearing. In addition, the Panel accepted that the Notice letter also conformed to the procedural Rules, as it contained the date, time and venue of this hearing.

Proceeding in Absence

2. In reaching its decision, the Panel took into account Ms Eales’ submission and the HCPC Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence. It accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice.

3. The Panel heard additional evidence from Ms Eales about the email correspondence that Kingsley Napley and the HCPC had with the Registrant between May and July 2017 (Bundle R3).

4. On 9 May 2017, Kingsley Napley (KN) solicitors instructed by the HCPTS, emailed the Registrant to ask whether the Final Hearing bundle could be sent by secure email because of the sensitive nature of it. 

5. On 10 May 2017, the Registrant responded and agreed. He also stated that the cost and inconvenience of attending a two day hearing was an issue for him.

6. On 12 May 2017,the HCPTS suggested that he could attend by telephone. On 13 May 2017, the Registrant responded that he was interested in the possibility of contributing to the hearing by telephone.

7. On 15 May 2017, KN asked the HCPTS to liaise with the Registrant.

8. On 4 July 2017, the HCPTS received an email from the Registrant stating that he did not think he would ever return to a high stress job such as social work because of his medical condition. He also stated that he would need “a lot” of retraining because of the length of time since he had practised as a social worker. He added that it had not been easy reaching that decision, as he worked hard to qualify and that “I used to be good at my job”.

9. On 6 July 2017, KN thanked the Registrant for his email and asked his permission to advise the Panel at the final hearing of his comments, for which he granted permission.

10. On 19 July 2017, the HCPTS emailed the Registrant to ask if he was still interested in engaging in the hearing by telephone and he replied that he did not wish to take part in the hearing.

11. The Panel noted that Dr G, the expert witness, was present and ready to give evidence and that the Registrant was not seeking an adjournment. The Panel also took into account that this case is a Health Committee case, involving the Registrant’s health. In the Panel’s opinion, the Registrant’s health condition may have impacted on his decision of 4 July 2017 not to engage on the telephone today.  However, in all the circumstances, the Panel considered that it was unlikely that the Registrant would attend if the case was to be adjourned. In the Panel’s judgement, there is a public interest in the hearing proceeding expeditiously, there was the inconvenience to the witness and the Registrant had voluntarily decided not to attend in person or by telephone. Therefore, for these reasons, the Panel has determined that it will proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background:

12. The Registrant was employed by Surrey County Council (the Council) from September 2013 as a social worker. During his probationary period, concerns were raised about his performance. As a result, he was not deemed to have satisfactorily completed the probation period, and he was dismissed on 5 February 2014. The Council referred the Registrant to the HCPC.

13. The concerns raised related to being unable to:

• appropriately assess and manage risk in the working environment;
• follow instructions in undertaking assessments on service users;
• demonstrate his understanding and knowledge of assessments;
• initiate interventions with children and families;
• exercise sound judgment;
• analyse and reflect critically so as to inform decision making;
• perform some basic tasks even when prompted;
• take responsibility for his own professional development and training.

14. The Registrant had a health diagnosis and it was considered to be the prime reason for his inability to perform to the appropriate level, despite having held a series of short term senior social worker roles, for approximately 4 years until 2002. Since that time, he had been employed in further short term posts or in part time roles in diverse areas, including working with children and older people. On one occasion he worked as a healthcare assistant with adults with learning disabilities and on another occasion he worked part time with elderly people with dementia. On a number of occasions he resigned at an early stage.

15. The HCPC eventually referred the Registrant to the Health Committee and in due course it sought an expert’s report from Dr G, whose report is dated 15 February 2017. He saw the Registrant in his home on 1 February 2017.

16. The Panel heard evidence from Dr G. In reaching its decisions, the Panel took into account his written and oral evidence, as well as the submissions of Ms Eales. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It also took into account the HCPC Practice Note on Impairment.

Decisions on Facts and Grounds:

17. The Panel noted Dr G’s diagnosis and that this has been confirmed by the Registrant’s GP, Dr B, in his letter to KN dated 21 February 2017.

18. In the Panel’s judgement, Dr G’s written and oral evidence was clear, measured and consistent. The Panel accepted his diagnosis of the Registrant and was satisfied that the Registrant was suffering, and continues to suffer, from a health condition.

Decision on Impairment:

19. The Panel accepted Dr G’s opinion that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his health condition.

20. The Panel accepted Dr G’s opinion that the Registrant’s inability to cope with his last social work post was related to his health condition.

21. In the Panel’s judgement, in his current condition of poor health, there is a risk of continuing relapses and a risk of repetition of the shortfalls in his social work practice, as identified by this case. Those shortfalls were numerous and basic in nature. This poses a continuous risk to the public.

22. For these reasons, the Panel concluded that if the Registrant were to be declared fit to practise, this would put the public at risk of harm and would undermine public confidence in the profession. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction:
23. In reaching its decision on Sanction, the Panel took into consideration the submission of Ms Eales and has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice. The Panel also took account of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance. At all times it exercised the principle of proportionality.

24. The Panel first considered taking no action, mediation and imposing a Caution Order and rejected these. In the Panel’s judgement, they would not provide the necessary degree of restriction and monitoring by the regulatory body to offer the protection necessary to the public from a practitioner whose fitness to practise has been found to be impaired. Such outcomes would also undermine public confidence in the profession, as they would not offer adequate checks and balances to determine if the Registrant’s health had improved sufficiently to be permitted to return to unrestricted practice.

25. The Panel balanced the objective interests of a Registrant in being able to engage in restricted practice in their chosen profession with a Conditions of Practice Order against the reality of that being a realistic and viable outcome, so as to protect the public and uphold public confidence in the profession.

26. The Panel took into consideration Dr G’s expert opinion in his written and oral evidence about the reality of the Registrant’s ability to be fit to practise in the future. Dr G was uncertain about the efficacy of a Conditions of Practice Order being able to achieve this, even after a period of time. The Panel also took account of the Registrant’s email dated 4 July 2017 which stated that he would not “ever” be able to return to such a “high stress job” as social work “due to my medical condition”. 

27. When considering Conditions of Practice the Panel took account of the fact that the Registrant was not present to confirm his willingness to abide by or fulfill any conditions. Further, the Panel could not devise Conditions of Practice which would sufficiently protect the public due to the wide ranging concerns of his social work practice linked to his current ongoing health condition.

28. Dr G described certain non-social work jobs the Registrant might wish to undertake. Dr G described the Registrant telling him in his February 2017 examination about a new full time job with young homeless people which had been on offer. Dr G stated that this type of job meant that the Registrant would be free from the pressures of a professional working life. Significantly, Dr G recited what the Registrant told him about that situation:

“He would like to do this for a time and then be able to return to social work in a year or so if he can build his confidence back up.”

29. In the Panel’s judgement, a Conditions of Practice Order, at this time, would not be fair to the Registrant, to the public and would be unrealistic. There may come a time within the next year when the Registrant feels more confident and resumes his former ambition to return to social work employment. If that were to be the case, the mandatory Review before this Order expires will provide an opportunity for him to do so as would an early Review.

30. For these reasons, the Panel determined that the most appropriate, proportionate and fair sanction, at this time, is that of a Suspension Order of 12 months’ duration on the grounds of public protection, the wider public interest and the Registrant’s own interests.

31. A reviewing Panel may be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance at the hearing, up to date medical evidence of his health condition, testimonials from any employment (paid or unpaid) and evidence of how he has kept his CPD up to date.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the name of Mr Cain Murphy from the Register for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

Interim Order:
The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.  This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Cain Murphy

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
25/07/2017 Health Committee Final Hearing Suspended